Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6

Now that your child is entering the world of schoolyard games and sports, here's a list of basic skills, courtesy of Active for Life, for children aged 4 to 6.

By Jim Grove, Active for Life
Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6

Little kid action

Let the games begin! Little kids will now be developing the skills and higher coordination levels later used in team sports and playground games. Remember, as you read this list from Active for Life, to guide and support your child in learning such games first, as certain skills may come more easily than others for different kids.

For more information on physical literacy, visit Active for Life

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: manley099/iStockphoto


By age four, your child should be running with confidence. You want to make sure she continues to run and to develop her strength and balance, as running is essential to many sports and activities.

TIP: Play regular tag games with your child, challenge her to impromptu sprint races at the park and look at introductory programs in sports such as soccer by age six.

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: ToddNiemann/iStockphoto


03Throwing and Catching

As so many sports and activities involve throwing and catching — baseball, basketball, football, and volleyball to name a few — you really want to continue to develop your child’s skills in these areas. Basic proficiency in these skills will allow her to participate with friends in dozens of sports for years to come without feeling left out.

TIP: Play throwing and catching games with a soft ball at home. Look into fun multi-sport kids programs such as Sportball, and consider introductory programs in baseball and softball around age six if your child is keen.

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

04Falling and Tumbling

Believe it or not, falling is an important skill. Kids who never learn to fall or tumble may be more prone to injury during activity because they don’t know how to tuck their head, knees and arms as they hit the ground.

TIP: Register your child in an introductory gymnastics program. Rolling and tumbling are the first things they learn!

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

05Hopping and Jumping

Hopping and jumping are fundamental skills for a multitude of sports and activities ranging from dance to track and field. You might think that hopping and jumping are things that kids just do naturally, but these skills needs to be practised as much as any other movement skills to develop balance and agility. 

TIP: Introduce your child to games such as hopscotch and jump rope, and look into early physical literacy programs such as Run Jump Throw.

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: JJRD/iStockphoto



There’s a lot more to skipping than meets the eye. Being able to skip requires mastery of a complex mix of balance, rhythm and coordination. (Note that we are talking about the locomotor skill that gets you from point A to point B, and not “skipping” rope, which is really a jumping or hopping activity.)

TIP: Show your child how to skip by singing songs like “Skip to My Lou” and skipping in a circle or as dance partners.

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: wojciech_gajda/iStockphoto


Riding a bike is an essential rite of childhood. It also provides the foundation for all cycling sports as it builds balance, coordination and strength on two wheels.

TIP: Get your child a bike and helmet that fits her, and look into introductory learn-to-ride programs such as Pedalheads if you’re not confident teaching her how to cycle.

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto

Mobility for 6 to 9

Physical literacy: Ages 4 to 6Photo: skynesher/iStockphoto
This article was originally published on Feb 28, 2013

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